Holidays and celebrations

Holidays and celebrations

Victory Day (7 January)

Also known as Victory over Genocide Day, this is the anniversary of the 1979 defeat of the Khmer Rouge by Vietnamese forces. This somber holiday is marked by exhibitions, cultural shows, and public gatherings in remembrance of those who lost their lives during the brutal four-year Khmer Rouge regime.

Meak Bochea (February)

This important Buddhist holiday celebrates the first gathering of monks who listened to the Buddha's speeches, and takes place on the first day a full moon occurs during the third lunar month. Buddhists honor the Buddha's teachings on this day by attending temples and refraining from all sins.

Cambodian New Year (April)

The Cambodian New Year, also known as Chaul Chnam Thmey, is the country's most important holiday, and lasts for three days during the middle of April. This is traditionally the time of year when the harvest season ends and farmers can relax before the start of the rainy season.

Visaka Bochea (April/May)

This Buddhist holiday which falls between April and March is often known as ‘Buddha's Birthday’, but Visaka Bochea actually commemorates the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. Buddhists celebrate this holiday by attending temples, listening to speeches by monks, and striving to bring happiness to others.

Royal Ploughing Ceremony (May)

Two sacred oxen plough furrows to mark the beginning of Cambodia's rainy rice growing season during the Royal Ploughing Ceremony. This ancient royal rite takes place in the middle of May, and Cambodians believe the food the oxen eat following their ploughing predicts how well the season's crops will grow.

Constitution Day (24 September)

Cambodia's Constitution Day not only celebrates the day the country's constitution was officially adopted in 1993, it also marks the day of King Norodom Sihanouk's second coronation after he was overthrown in 1970. This was the day Cambodia officially became a constitutional monarchy.

Pchum Ben (September/October)

Pchum Ben takes place in September or October, and is called Ancestor's Day because Cambodians honor their deceased ancestors by leaving them food during this three-day festival. Cambodians believe their ancestors' spirits roam the earth during this time.

Independence Day (9 November)

Cambodia's Independence Day is the day the country became an independent nation in 1953 after 90 years of French occupation. Parades, fireworks, and colorful decorations are all part of Cambodia's Independence Day celebrations.

Bon Om Thook (November)

One of Cambodia's most unique holidays is Bon Om Thook, the three-day water festival which takes place each November when the waters of the Tonle Sap reverse their courses. Siem Reap and Phnom Penh both host boat races to mark the occasion, and in ancient times, the winners of these races became Cambodia's most powerful military warriors.

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